It’s no big surprise that Dominick Cruz and T.J. Dillashaw don’t agree on who won their fight following a back-and-forth struggle in the UFC Fight Night Boston headliner on Sunday night.
In the end, it was Cruz, more than four years removed from his last title reign, who emerged with a spit-decision triumph and bantamweight gold, but a solid case could be made for Dillashaw retaining the strap, as well.
“I don’t know. When they’re that close, it’s tough to say,” UFC President Dana White said at the post-fight press conference. “One of the judges had it like four [rounds] to one; that’s crazy. That I don’t see. I didn’t see a four to one fight. But who gives a s–t what we think? We’re not the judges it doesn’t matter. We can argue about it all night.”
The final statistics didn’t offer a lot more clarity. Cruz held a narrow 112-to-109 edge in significant strikes landed, according to FightMetric.com, and there was little disparity to be found from one round to another. “The Dominator” also landed four takedowns, breaking Dillashaw’s spotless UFC record in that category, but he never maintained control for any significant period of time.
Still, despite multiple knee surgeries, Cruz was as unpredictable and difficult to hit as ever, and Dillashaw struggled to assert himself as easily as he did in two decisive bouts against Renan Barao.
When the final verdict was announced, Cruz wasn’t surprised.
“I felt like I was countering well. I felt like he missed a lot. I felt like I got some sweet takedowns that were timed right. I kept the pace high. I was throwing a lot of combinations,” he said. “There were a lot of things that I did well. There’s obviously things that I’ve got to look at that I did wrong, like every fight.If you get hit you did something wrong. I prefer to not have one finger laid on me if I can help it, but it doesn’t always go that way. It just felt good to have the belt and know that I belong here. You have your doubts when you go through what I’ve gone through.”
For Dillashaw, the final tally was a cold dose of reality, albeit one that the Elevation Fight Team product doesn’t agree with.
“Dominick’s a very good fighter. I do feel like I won the fight. Just pressure alone, controlling the Octagon and landing the bigger strikes,” Dillashaw said. “I know he got a few takedowns that I don’t feel like should be scored that great with three seconds control total. It’s a tough one to take. I definitely didn’t perform to my best, either. I threw a little too hard, could’ve touched a little bit and set some things up; thinking back on it I messed up, but I still think I won that fight.”
The close nature of the fight prompted calls for an immediate rematch. White wouldn’t commit to anything in the aftermath, while Cruz simply wanted a chance to savor a victory that was years in the making.
“I just won the belt. I said this so many times, nothing really belongs to you. Right when you hold the belt up, everybody in the world has already come up with three different matchups for you,” Cruz said. “People start yelling at you. There’s a target on your back. I haven’t even gotten a pat on the back, and I’m already being asked who I’m fighting next. It’s like: I’m here. Just let me win. Let me be and I’ll worry about who I’m fighting next when it comes. I just want to be in the moment.”
Meanwhile, Dillashaw was left to reflect on what he could have done differently.
“I think I waited a little bit too much. I should have pushed for the finish. I know I rocked him a couple times in those later rounds when I landed some shots,” he said. “You can’t ever be happy with it going to the decision. You wish this sport was a little bit better with knowing who’s winning and who’s not. That’s just the way it goes down. It’s frustrating.”